You can find it in supermarkets across North America.
But have you ever wondered where it comes from?
In 2016, Kenya exported 1.3% of the world’s coconut oil. The majority (88%) of that was destined for the United States.
Kwale County, Kenya, is known for its abundance of coconut palms, which thrive in the area’s highly nutritional soil and fresh air coming off the Indian Ocean.
Kwale Coconut Processors Limited (KCPL) is a certified fair trade organic producer of coconut oil. Based in Kenya, Kwale Coconuts strives to “continuously develop and maintain a highly productive base of certified organic coconut farmers and a professional production facility.”
That’s why MEDA has partnered with Kwale Coconuts through our Maendeleo Sawa (M-Sawa) project. By providing matching grants to small and medium enterprises like Kwale Coconuts, MEDA is able to support them in their economic growth and social impact. By partnering with Kwale Coconuts, MEDA is supporting smallholder farmers along the supply chain.
Kwale Coconuts has a supply base of over 1,500 farmers who are experienced and trained in best agricultural practices.
John Mwangi is one of them.
A resident of Kwale County, John grows coconuts and sells them to Kwale Coconuts.
Through MEDA’s partnership with the company, John is among the many farmers who have benefited from agronomic training. In the past six months, he has learned farmer group dynamics, effectively manage his agricultural waste, organic farming practices, mulching and crop management. With his increased knowledge, he has seen his average yield increase significantly.
“Once the coconut husks degrade, it forms a compost, helping improve nutrients in the soil,” said John. This improves water retention and enhances the quality of the nuts harvested.”
John looks forward to continuing his relationship with MEDA and Kwale Coconuts. He values the partnership because it provides him with a more stable income than when he was working with independent middlemen whose prices varied greatly throughout the year.
In the past, John earned an average of 8.0 KES (about $0.08) per nut. Since his partnership with Kwale Coconuts, he sells his coconuts at a constant rate of 11.0 KES each – a 27% increase! And he earns a 1.0 KES premium for being a certified fair trade organic farmer.
With 80+ coconut trees, each producing 15-45 nuts four times a year, he can maintain a stable income to support his family. John intends to send his son, Mwangi Jr., to school.
Investing in trusted, local companies is integral to a community’s economic success. When we partner with local businesses and trust their expertise, we create sustainable solutions and improve livelihoods for generations to come.